by Alex Palmer | December 03, 2013
As social media has taken on a growing role in both the personal and professional areas, organizations are finding that “social capital” has its own value, according to a new report. Titled “Business is Social: How Companies are Creating New Sources of Value,” the new white paper from the Incentive Marketing Association’s Performance Improvement Council (PIC) makes the case that beyond goods and services, social networks provide their own type of value to consumers and employees. 

The paper outlines how organizations create this value through the social networks they cultivate through word of mouth. While “the customer knows best” may be conventional wisdom, this report extends the concept to how this customer can influence his or her social networks and connections.

“Not only can companies innovate and create new sources of value for themselves, but companies can generate greater value and meaning for the network itself by enlisting customers in the process of updating products and solutions,” writes the report’s author, PIC Executive Team member and Maritz Vice President Jerry Klein. “Enabling people to participate in a higher purpose than just making widgets is a key part of building a powerful brand with a mission and meaning that resonates with multiple stakeholders.”

This understanding of social capital can be extended to a company’s internal marketing as well. While internal corporate communications are as important as ever, a key element in today’s workforce, according to the paper, is the social interactions that occur between employees. And a key way to encourage strong, organization-strengthening interactions is through employee recognition and incentives. 

“Formal recognition programs allow companies to recognize and celebrate the behaviors that create a unique internal brand and culture,” writes Klein.

The full report can be downloaded at the PIC’s website (